Retour des enfants à l'école : intentions des parents d'enfants asthmatiques en contexte de pandémie (COVID-19)

By July 2020, 55,000 people had been infected with COVID-19 in Quebec and 5,500 people had died. School closures were identified early in the pandemic as a key measure to curb the spread of the virus. Since then, studies have shown that closing schools can have negative consequences for children and that other social distancing measures are more effective. Nevertheless, the return to school in September 2020 has been a major source of anxiety for many parents.
In this study based on an innovative experimental approach, Roxane Borges da Silva and colleagues show that simple outreach tools and clear, evidence-based information can impact the choices parents make for their children's well-being and safety. Parents of children with asthma were selected from an administrative database provided by a specialized asthma clinic in Quebec. In surveying parents about their perceptions and intentions, the authors found that of those parents who initially indicated that they didn't plan to send their child to school, reading the information sheet caused just over a quarter to reconsider their decision: 16.3% were considering sending their child to school instead, and 11.6% became undecided. Some parents who may have been less informed about these issues may have become concerned when they read the information sheet, leading them to change their minds. The concept of "cognitive overload" may be relevant here.
The level of parental concern related to COVID-19 was found to be a major determinant of intention to return to school. This study demonstrates the importance of reassuring and informing parents about the risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 in children. Publicizing the evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the pediatric population and the recommendations of medical associations may change parents' decision to return their children to school.

The authors conducted another CIRANO study, but for a population of parents of children without asthma. 

→ Linked Project Report: Retour des enfants à l’école : intentions des parents d’enfants de Laval en contexte de pandémie (COVID-19)

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